“The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s avant-garde flying squad, Ensemble 10/10.” The Times
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s contemporary music ensemble.
Ensemble 10/10 was founded in 1997 by RLPO members, Principal Clarinet Nicholas Cox and co- Principal ‘cello Hilary Browning. Since its first concert on 22 November 1997 at 10.10pm, it has become established as a regular feature of Liverpool concert life. Clark Rundell was appointed Director of 10/10 in 2005.
Actually, I have played for 10/10 since 1999 and Clarke has almost always been the conductor, anyway. Clarke has established a fantastic working relationship with most composers of note, in the North West, and nationally, as well as brand new names.
I like this job more than anything for it’s creative diversity. Last week, the RLPO were together en masse for Carl Davis’s ‘Sporting Themes’ gigs and this week the rest of the RLPO are down at the Friary recording piano concertos for Decca with James Judd conducting and wonkerkid Ben Grosvenor on piano. I, on the other hand, get to play my small part at the cutting edge of new music! In the above photo Carl is infront of the conta bassoon. My view of him for the entire concert!
10/10’s concerts are an eclectic mixture of new commissions, world premieres and many well known contemporary works. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has commissioned a huge range of UK composers for the Ensemble, as well as many from international names. The concerts always include music from the North west of the UK.
Ensemble 10/10 has been the winner of two awards at the 2009 RPS Music Awards, the Concert Series and Festivals category and, along with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ensemble category. “Ensemble 10/10’s 2008 programme showed remarkable integrity and imagination and a pleasing element of surprise. The jury was impressed by the Ensemble’s clear sense of artistic ambition, allied to the quality of the connection with its audiences. Ensemble 10/10 has become an integral part of the RLPO’s activity and the jury hopes it will go on to become a lasting part of the Liverpool scene.”
10/10 made its debut outside Liverpool at the 2000 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and will be appeared there again in November 2010. It has performed in York and at Glastonbury Festival and performs regularly at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. 10/10 has also made it’s Wigmore Hall debut in collaboration with the Al Farabi concerto series in March 2010.
After all that exhaustive introduction to the ensemble, I will proceed, without further ado, to bring you news of our latest public performance, which happened at Hope University’s wonderful Cornerstone complex, last Wednesday 18th April.
I am currently researching The Phil’s archives back to 1840. Interestingly, this venue is immediately adjacent to the Liverpool Collegiate, where the orchestra gave many of it’s early concerts. Very interesting for my research.
The programme, entitled ‘Pathfinders’ presented as varied and interesting offering of high quality music by living composers as ever, and a spectacular performance by international cello sensation,Giovanni Sollima; playing his own work ‘Spasimo.’ This performance of his hitherto best appreciated work, was the world premiere in the ensemble version.
We were to be allowed the luxury of two whole days rehearsals, and a rehearsal on the day. The Cornerstones building has been the most oft used performance venue for 10.10 in recent years, and thus was familiar to all. Our enthusiastic and loyal following also enjoy this regular concert setting. Ensemble 10.10 have played in Hope’s new concert hall, Capstone (opposite) but have preferred to offer our work in the more traditional ‘church’ style acoustic of the usual venue.
The concert was to begin with a work by Martijn Padding. A student of Louis Andriessen, Padding has written works for all the major ensembles and orchestras in Holland. His piece, ‘Slow Walk to Moscow’ was influenced by the composers in old times having to walk across Europe to hear their peers. Padding was invited to Moscow, by Vladimir Tarnapolsky, to compose a piece for the renowned ‘Studio New Music’ ensemble. The walk to Moscow would have taken Padding about six months from Amsterdam, so he decided to just compose a piece inspired by his imagination instead!
‘Piccola Musica Notturna, by the Croatian born Italian, Luigi Dallapiccola, would be on display in the concert. Based on the poem, ‘Summer Night,’ by Antonio Machado. Written in 1954, about a deserted Village, the work is composed in free serial technique. Dallapiccola died in 1974 so this would be the only work not by a living composer.
It is a beautiful summer night.
The tall houses leave
their balcony shutters open
to the wide plaza of the old village.
In the large deserted square,
stone benches, burning bush and acacias
trace their black shadows
symetrically on the white sand.
In its zenith, the moon; in the tower,
the clock’s illuminated globe.
I walk through this ancient village,
alone, like a ghost.
The first piece on the programme to involve the trumpet at all was ‘Restless Feeling’ by David Horne. David is The Phil’s former composer in residence. Restless Feeling is won of my own personal favourites of his extensive out put. It is a ‘reflection on the music and sound world of The Velvet Underground.’
The work is original but there are many allusions to their style. This 20 minute work for 15 bplayers features a very challenging but rewarding trumpet part and Clarke seemed to like a rather brisk tempo! Based on the album ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico,’ the piece takes its title from a lyric ectracted from ‘Sunday Morning.’
After the interval, the audience would be treated to another world premiere. This time by young Italian composer, Gaetano Nenna. Nenna’s work is commissioned via the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival as part of their involvement in an inter-European scheme for young composers to be heard in countries other than their own. Nenna has been travelling to the Uk to work with Ensemble 10/10 on his ‘ Nel suono, nello spazio: Contrappunti.’
This work would feature a small band on the concert platform with the other musicians spread out around the auditorium. It was only last month, during my trumpet & organ concert with Ian Tracey, that music critic Simon Cowen had amusingly described me as a “… Fifteen stone, follically challenged, forty something Lancashire angel!”
Nenna had apparently asked for the trumpeter to stand just out of sight, on the very high balcony, and play a long, high, quiet solo at the end of his work. It represents an angel evidently. Do you think I’m becoming a little typecast?!
I was unable to see the conductor from my situation, so Ruth Davies, also playing on the balcony, but sighted by the audience, would have to tip me the wink!
Rather amusingly, when Gaetano Nenna was writing his piece, the ensemble was working alongside him in The Friary (RLPO’s rehearsal venue in Everton). I had to ‘play the angel’ from inside the confessional. I was there sometime!
As I was not involved in the last piece, I was able to scramble down from the balcony in time to hear the spectacular performance of ‘Spasimo.’ This ‘cracking’ piece was written and performed by the soloist, Giovanni Sollima. This piece was commissioned in 1995 by the Teatro Massimo of Palermo, Sicilly; to commemorate the completed restoration of Santa Maria dello Spasimo. The site is a monumental complex of a church that was never completed and used over the centuries for anything but worship, really. This spectacular piece includes so many contrasting genres, from Islamic Chant to rock music.
Sollima is one of the world’s most sought after cellists, noted for his extravagant, groundbreaking energetic performances and his compositions are equally individual, with many sounds and instruments invented by him or invented for him.
Currently on the Phil Channel you can watch Ensemble 10/10’s world premiere of Gary Carpenter’s One Million Tiny Operas about Britain from the 2009/2010 season and featuring the soloists Loré Lixenberg and Jennifer John, as well as a spotlight on the life and work of Mieczysław Weinberg, composer of last season’s premiere Lady Magnesia. In May 2010 Ensemble 10/10 performed the world premiere of the new Clarinet concerto, “Dove of Peace: Hommage to Piccasso” by the acclaimed Spanish composer Benet Casablancas. The Phil Channel now includes a film of the entire performance by RLPO Principal Clarinet, Nicholas Cox, with Ensemble 10/10.
The Ensemble is featured on four CDs; “When Worlds Collide”, the music of Frank Zappa in a collaboration with The Muffin Men, 2003; the music of John Casken. Gary CarpenterDie Flimmerkiste and Stephen Pratt Lovebytes are available from our online CD store. A CD featuring Michael Torke’s “Tahiti” and “Tropical” also available. Ensemble 10/10 enjoys an ongoing relationship with BBC Radio 3, who have broadcast several concerts.
Ensemble 10/10 gratefully acknowledges financial support from the PRS for Music Foundation.